State legislative elections come into national focus

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September 8, 2010

Partisan dominance in state legislatures
heading into the 2010 state legislative elections
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Boston, Massachusetts: As the nation moves past Labor day, the attention paid to the 2010 elections begins to heat up. In addition to the federal positions, more focus is now being given to the state legislative elections.

The New York Times debuted a story this week delving into the impact that state legislative elections will have on the redistricting that will take place once census results are released.[1] Redistricting has been a common theme throughout media coverage.

Governing Magazine detailed a story about what kind of impact the redistricting can have on elections. In Ohio, the results of the election in 2000 were seen in the 2006 elections. In 2006, despite a "Blue Sweep" across Ohio of Democrats gaining 300,000 more aggregate votes for state legislative seats, they only gained one total seat -- winning nine races and losing one. The reason for this, is likely due to redistricting that heavily favored one party over the either.[2]

Republicans are predicting they will gain at least 10 state legislative chambers (including: the Indiana House of Representatives, Ohio House of Representatives and Wisconsin State Senate). This would provide them authority in the redistricting of about 25 Congressional districts. Meanwhile, Democrats explain they have a chance to win back control in several chambers including Tennessee House of Representatives, Texas House of Representatives and Michigan State Senate.[1]

The Republican State Leadership Committee plans to spend about $18 million on state elections this year while the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee plans to spend about $20 million.[1]

After the 2000 census, the Republicans had an edge over Democrats in redistricting.[3] When seats can be drawn to be safer for one party, that can save the national campaign money -- by limiting the amount of cash necessary to ensure election.

"Redistricting determines who's in power," according to Campaign Legal Center's Gerry Hebert. "It's the most politicla thing that [state] legislatures do."[3]

As the date draws closer to November 2, there will no doubt be more and more scrutiny over the state legislative elections.

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